The Nearness of We: Taking Charge of the Breastfeeding Journey

Every breastfeeding journey is different. For some moms, it is easy. For others, it can be a little bit complicated. Mommy Mundo celebrates Breastfeeding Month by shining the spotlight on their stories. There is Grace Pecayo, who was committed to breastfeeding despite the unpleasant stories she’s heard about other moms’ experiences. There is Gail Santos, who waited for days on end before the precious liquid arrived. Lastly, there is Divina Rina Diaz, who never gave up breastfeeding her baby despite a round of health issues.

These are their stories.

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GRACE PECAYO, mom of one

I am a proud momma of a handsome baby boy. I can say that choosing to breastfeed my child is one of the biggest decisions I’ve made as a first-time mom. I wish my mother was still alive the moment I found out that I was pregnant so she’ll be there to guide me on my motherhood journey.

It all started with the feeling that maybe breastfeeding isn’t for me and I should give up. I’ve heard a lot of negative stuff about it. But, hey! Thank God for sending me one special friend who properly introduced me to breastfeeding. I did my own research and joined a couple of support groups in social media. It turned out that breastfeeding was much better than I expected.

My son took only two days to perfectly latch. I only had minor problems; nothing like the scary stories I’ve heard before. Not only that, I lost weight. Yes! I couldn’t contain my delight at losing weight from 87 kg down to 60 kg. My family and friends were amazed after I posted my latest photo on Facebook. I got funny comments like, “I guess I should breastfeed so I can lose weight, too.” Others said I should know how to follow a balanced diet because my body is working around the clock to make breast milk for my baby.

With my breastfeeding experience, I’ve learned that determination and support are so important. I am not shy to show I am nursing my child in public because I have a husband who believes in me. The best part is my self-determination helped my other friends to breastfeed, too. I may not be the perfect mom but I know I made the right choice to breastfeed my child. I am blessed it worked out.

gail santos

GAIL SANTOS, mom of one

I underwent Cesarean section because of my baby’s breech position. I struggled for three days after delivery to produce milk. I even cried in the hospital’s nursery to ask for some breast milk because my baby was still crying after 12 hours of latching. But God is truly gracious! He granted my wish to provide the most precious liquid that a woman’s body can produce to feed a little baby.

On our fourth day in the hospital, my milk started to flow on its own. I was so overwhelmed. My breastfeeding journey may not be so nice from the start but I tried my best to hold on. I believed that I can feed my baby and that my body is made wonderfully to give what’s best for her. I felt empowered because my family and the medical staff supported me. But what truly made me strong is my child. She did not give up on me. She kept on latching even if it took a lot of effort to get milk from me. I felt important and loved. Breastfeeding my baby made me feel like the most blessed mom.

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DIVINA RINA DIAZ, mom of two

I am mommy to five-year-old Razi and 14-month-old Snow. I breastfed Razi until she self-weaned at 33 months. I was working as a Supervisor for a California-based insurance company at a BPO then. Since our time zone is in Pacific Standard Time(PST), my schedule is from 11PM to 8AM. In between meetings, client calls, customer complaints, and product training, I managed to pump twice within the shift. Even if I was working full-time, Razi had a freezer full of milk to tide her over while I’m at the office.

After my maternity leave, I researched on my rights as a breastfeeding mom. I knew about lactation breaks and how the workplace should have a designated lactation room. My office didn’t have that but the clinic served as my pumping area. I met moms like me and shared stories about motherhood and breastfeeding. We swapped tips and encouraged each other to keep on pumping for our babies’ sake. I did that for one and a half years. I resigned because my husband got a job offer in Malaysia and after applying for a pass, Razi and I joined him there after a month. We lived there for two years and went back to the Philippines since I got pregnant and I wanted to give birth here.

Snow was born last year, a big baby at 3.8kg. My doctor and the nurses warned me that he will eat a lot because he’s big. I wasn’t worried. I thought that breastfeeding my second child will be easier because of my 33 months experience. I spoke too soon.

They were right. He loves to feed. Every one to two hours, he’s latched on. That would have been fine because I expected it, but I had so many issues from the start. He had a shallow latch that he refuses to change no matter how many times I unlatch and reposition him. He also had rashes as a reaction to certain foods so I cut out a lot of stuff from my diet. He was a colicky baby and wanted to be held all the time. I spent less and less time with Razi because we have no yaya. I also had very strong letdowns that gave him gas and made him fussy. Now that Snow is 14 months, he still wakes every two hours at night to dream feed. I lost so much weight and my immune system crashed. I had thyroid problems, a bout of urticaria, and I had pneumonia which I was supposed to be hospitalized for but I refused. I can’t leave my kids with my husband. He is supportive and all, but I know he won’t be able to handle both kids especially since he is at the work site (he’s an engineer) most of the time.

Despite all the setbacks, I never gave up on breastfeeding. I didn’t want to stop and I know things will get easier. I attended the Lactation Peer Counselor training in Arugaan and I learned from Nanay Ines, the epitome of breastfeeding empowerment. The things I learned from her helped me with my feeding challenges. I also used my knowledge to help other moms by answering breastfeeding related queries on Facebook pages and mommy groups. I was able to reconnect with old friends because I posted on my FB page that I am a BF Peer Counselor and I’m just a message away. I’m glad that I am able to empower other moms to continue despite having to deal with the slew of ordeals that moms all over face. I am glad that I read up on the benefits of breastfeeding so I wasn’t swayed by other people telling me to just give the baby formula so I can have my life back. I honestly do not feel that my life isn’t mine anymore. If anything, I am more in control of myself now. I know that I am capable and my kids are testimonies of how I can do it both ways (work or stay at home), and not be a lesser mom if I am either.

The Nearness Of We_Poster

Mommy Mundo celebrates the sense of community brought about by breastfeeding through The Nearness of We.
A photo exhibit by Stanley Ong, it captures the warmth and joy of breastfeeding in 13 enchanting portraits featuring Ani de Leon Brown, Thammie Sy, Paula Peralejo Fernandez, Iya Villania Arellano, Rima Ostwani, Alexa Gutierrez, Janice Lizardo, Eizza Lim de Baron, Kaity Bato, Jaya Crisostomo, Ruth Galang, Em Sulit, and Charissa Villanueva. The Nearness of We runs until August 17, 2017 at SM Aura Premier.

Mommy Mundo’s partners in The Nearness of We: A Breastfeeding Exhibit by Stanley Ong include School of Styling, Mommy Treats, Lumix, The Podium Mall, and SM Aura Premier.

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